Thursday, March 10, 2011

Second day of Lent: You don't mess with reverends

It’s the second day of Lent. Adding it up, I’m confused as to why if you start with 40 days from Ash Wednesday, you wind up on Palm Sunday. Until a Twitter friend reminds me that you don’t count Sundays. That Sundays were not traditionally fast days.  The day is cold and windy and steady rain. The Saigon Grill workers are out in force with signs and chants. I remove all the Ash Wednesday signs from the church sign windows. Lots of wet papers. A Met Museum admittance pin. And a large stick, gnawed at  the end.
Inside, the smell of burned palms remains. I clean out the bowl of ashes, the tarnished communion cup. Decide to leave ashes in the cup on the table for Sunday. I notice Arcadia left her bag last night and called her. 
Sweeping today is quiet. Almost meditative. From somewhere come the words do not be afraid. I let them linger. Reflect on what I’ll be working on this Lent. I always focus on reconciliation. Hope to repair, restore at least one relationship. Some years it happens, some years not.
As I do one last sweep, Marty comes up. “Ah, the garbage man,” he says. “Got to keep the place clean,” I say. “I told you my father was a reverend,” he says. “One time, in the days before the trucks, a street sweeper, a sanitation guy, comes up to my mother. Tells her, ‘why don’t you invite me up for a cup  of coffee?’ ‘If my husband ever heard you say that he’d tear you limb from limb,’ she says. You don’t mess with reverends.” “At least not that one,” I say, “take it easy man, ok?” 
Starting up Amsterdam, I see a man with an SUV shopping cart and his bag of cans. Another independent recycling entrepreneur. He goes under the scaffolding, heading for steps.

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